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Ever wonder what the deal is with the sun? She is our native star, center of our solar system, giver of life and energy, and the magic lantern that turned a dead wet rock into a living ecosystem with jet engines, movie stars, superconductors and sandwich spreads. Gee, what a great sun we have!
But try spending any quality time with the sun — lounging around with her, bathing in her luxurious heat, gathering about yourself her golden light — and before long you’ll have skin like a bargain handbag that’s been dragged behind a garbage truck. More or less. So the sun giveth, and the sun taketh away.
Since we’re trapped on this rock a scant 93 million miles from this bipolar nuclear furnace, we’ll just have to find a way to make the relationship work. There are ways to partake of the sun’s glory without turning our skin into burlap. Let’s talk.
Saving Your Skin! (from Sun Damage)
You well know what grandma says when she catches us eating that fifth bowl of Capn’ Crunch™.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little Cap’n Crunch™. It’s all about moderation, dear.”
Because you adore Capn’ Crunch™, Grandma's words pierce your soul like a hot saber. But that's just Grandma. And she’s right, of course. We don’t have to necessarily ditch the stuff we love just because it’s not great for us. We just have to dial it back a little. So it is with the sun. We can enjoy the sun’s life-giving properties without exposing ourselves to her darker, more destructive persona.
UV and You
So what gives? Does the sun shower us with lovely Vitamin D, or skin cell-ravaging ultraviolet?
Sunlight stimulates production of vitamin D in targeted layers of our skin, and that Vitamin D goes to making our intestinal walls more absorbent of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. Thus the link between Vitamin D and ”strong bones”.
Exposure to sunlight is actually the main way we derive Vitamin D in nature, and UVB the particular ultraviolet wavelength that spurs the aforementioned helpful chemical reaction. The sun bathes the planet with unmediated energy — about 173,000 trillion total watts of solar energy blasting the Earth continuously. Between the ozone layer and our fashionable outerwear, the amount of that energy that gets inside us to beat up our cells? That’s at least partly up to us.
The sun belts out three types of ultraviolet light (or ultraviolet “radiation”, if the lecturer is determined to make an impression), and they differ in terms of their respective wavelengths.
- UVA – The most common UV. Penetrates the skin down to the middle layer.
- UVB – A shorter wavelength than UVA, this radiation only penetrates the skin to the topmost layer, but this is the one that catalyzes all the vitamin D business.
- UVC – The sun’s UVC rays are the highest energy ultraviolet, and the most dangerous. Exposure to UVC light causes mutations in plants and animals.
Fortunately, the ruinous UVC is stopped cold by the ozone layer (knock on wood).
Sun Damage is Real
What’s so bad about UV? It’s just light, isn’t it? Yes, but it is sufficiently energetic— as dictated by its wavelength— to penetrate the skin cells themselves and wreak havoc with the DNA, sometimes messing with cellular apoptosis; the cellular braking mechanism that makes cells cyclically and naturally die. DNA-damaged cells may instead uncontrollably propagate, which is a simple description of cancer -- melanoma in this case. UV is so effective at irreparably mangling DNA, it is used as an anti-bacterial in clinical settings—a sterilizing element.
Apart from the DNA-breaking, UV radiation striking the body (not to portray a picnic at the beach as a violent confrontation) damages collagen fibers in the skin, costing it elasticity and pliability. UV also attacks vitamin A in the body — helpmate of vision, physical growth, reproduction, cell division, and immunity.
A sunburn has long been considered a sort of summery rite of passage, but in fact indicates cellular damage and repair. And the damage and repair cycle has its limits.
Protect Yourself from Sun Damage, While Still Managing to Enjoy Our Neighborhood Ball of Fire
Here are some simple tips to protect oneself from that well-meaning, alternately life-giving and ravaging ball of fire—our sun:
Sunscreen: A drag, right? It can be like smearing margarine all over yourself which, granted, is exciting to some (he confessed). It’s important to remember — you can’t feel UV as heat. So a cool, pleasantly overcast day with no direct sun says nothing about how much you’re being beaten up by Sol. Slather on the sunscreen before you head out, and look for one that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every 1.5 hours.
Don’t forget to holler and chastise and loudly judge other beachgoers who are not sufficiently protecting themselves from the sun. Everybody enjoys being scolded by strangers at the beach. Remember that.
Portable Shade: Now that you’re all buttered up you’ll want a hat, one that shades your face, your neck, and those Dumbo-like ears of yours. (Kidding. Everybody loves Dumbo. Your baby pachyderm ears are endearing).
Sunglasses? Aw hell yeah! Now we can start inching toward coolness! BUT. Look for lenses that absorb or deflect 99% to 100% of the UV. A little smoked glass will not stop the UV from getting to your eyes. Premature vision loss, increased risk of cataracts, macular degeneration. No biggie.
Know Your UV Report: Weather reports will often mention the day’s UV Index. Take a gander at what that figure is before you head out. The sun is most intense between the hours of 10AM and 4PM. Why so glum? Oh, right. That’s just about the perfect window for a day at the beach. Just be aware of the strength the UV on any given occasion and take appropriate measures.
Oh, and take a beach ball. In old movies people derive unreasonable, smiling pleasure from lightly tossing a beach ball back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It is the damndest thing. There must be something secretly fun about this numbing activity. If you find out what that is, please let us know.
The Sun Giveth
It just makes sense that Mother Nature—obsessed as she is with balance (as has been noted) — would delight in the fact that the sun gives rapturous life to a Plant Kingdom whose gifts include remedies for the sun's abuse. It’s as if the school bully slugged you in the jaw with one hand and offered a cold compress with the other. Uh, thanks? Ma Nature is not entirely predictable, and we wouldn't want her any other way.
But nature heals! KOS Lookin' Good - Hair, Nail and Skin Support Capsules — a shorter name for this product simply wouldn’t do — bundles the stuff that naturally does battle with sun damage. Naturally occurring cellular sun damage comes from free radicals and cellular oxidative stress loosed by all the DNA wreckage, courtesy of the UV bombast.
And to those who would quite reasonably scold us; "You can't get beauty from a pill!" We couldn't agree more. But, helllooooo. This is a capsule.
Solution? Vitamins, roots, herbs, and berries come together to support your body's natural free radical defenses, protecting cellular integrity and imparting to your skin, hair, and nails the "shine" of visible good health.
Nature is a gigantic machine with a million complementary moving parts. It only a matter of knowing your way around.
The sun is a marvel. We wouldn’t be here without her. If she left us tomorrow it would be cold and dark. We’d have to quickly and desperately dress in extra layers for sure, and would become solid-state ice statues even as we were buttoning up our lil' cardigans. And if you dropped a contact lens in all that dark? Forget about it!
We need the sun. We love the sun. But she doesn’t know her own strength. It’s up to us to enjoy her company without being destroyed by her crazy UV rays.
Hey, every relationship has its challenges.
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